RYAN BRIGGS' article on the city's vacant lot problem displayed little understanding of how the Sheriff's Office functions. He used outdated information to form erroneous conclusions. At no time did he call our office to obtain the facts.

He assumed that the Sheriff's Office chooses the properties put up for foreclosure or tax sale. Properties are placed in sheriff's sales by the city for delinquent taxes or a mortgage lender seeking foreclosure. The sheriff is an arm of the court system who conducts the sales according to law and has no part in the selection process. Nor do we remove properties in a sale without a court order.

We also play no role in what is sold, delayed or removed from a sale. About a third of the properties in a sale are sold either to a third party or the lender. Another third of the properties are delayed to a later sale by court order because the defendant is trying to work out a payment plan to keep the property. The final third of the properties are removed from the sale because of bankruptcy or because the lender and defendant have come to terms.

There is now no reason to say the Sheriff's Office is inefficient. Three years ago it took 90 to 120 days to obtain a deed from the sheriff after a property was sold and paid for. Today we provide a deed within 20 days after the buyer has made payment.

Prior to my taking office, no effort was made to return excess proceeds from the sale of a property to the person who lost the property. In three years, we have sought out people who were owed money and paid out over $5 million dollars.

I would also like to point out that three years ago the Sheriff's Office turned over to the city $27 million in delinquent taxes and fees collected through sheriff's sales. This year we will provide over $60 million.

Jewell Williams

Sheriff, city and county of Philadelphia Blame Harrisburg, not city

It is disappointing to watch the Daily News abandon its public service mission and spread misinformation about schools funding in Philadelphia for no perceivable purpose other than to take hits at public officials.

City Council has increased funding to the School District of Philadelphia by more than $327 million over the past four years. We will exceed $423 million in new school funding with next year's budget.

Philadelphia public schools are in perpetual crisis because of our state government's refusal to appropriately fund a system it completely controls. State funding for the state-run Philadelphia school system has dropped by approximately $150 million over the last four years.

The problem isn't in City Hall. It's in Harrisburg.

By misleading the public, the Daily News is directing advocacy away from the state capitol, where it is needed most. City Council has only ever heeded the moral imperative to support public education by raising taxes for our schools every year since 2011.

We have raised taxes on households, businesses, tobacco products and sales, and are poised to raise more taxes on parking garages, all while the city has improved tax collection.

And it's still not enough - until, perhaps, now. Gov. Tom Wolf has introduced a commonsense budget that restores funding for public education by taxing corporations and industries more equitably.

All Pennsylvanians should call on their elected state representatives to work with Gov. Wolf to right-size state and local funding proportions to our schools. Once Philadelphia's budget is passed, I will spend my summer traveling to Harrisburg to advocate for full, fair funding, as I've done every summer of this crisis.

I hope parents, educators, advocates and even pundits who genuinely want what our schools deserve will join me.

Darrell Clarke

President, Philadelphia City Council,

5th District